How to Answer What Is Your Work Ethic

Four Parts:Evaluating Your Work EthicAnswering Questions About Your Work EthicAsking Questions During Your InterviewSample Answers

Work ethics pertain to a person's attitudes, feelings and beliefs about work. The state of a person's work ethic determines how that person relates to occupational responsibilities such as goal-setting, hard-working accountability, task completion, autonomy, reliability, cooperation, communication, honesty, effort, timeliness, determination, leadership, volunteerism and dedication. A strong work ethic - one that encompasses a positive and productive approach to work - is favored in the work force. For that reason, it is not uncommon for employers to ask prospective employees questions regarding their work ethic. Because work ethic is a complex and individualistic subject, it is important that you put careful consideration into your own work philosophy so that you can best express yourself when the need arises.

Part 1
Evaluating Your Work Ethic

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    Address your priorities about work. Is your job your first priority or are other aspects of your life more important?
    • You may find that your job is your first priority and you are able to fit in your other responsibilities around your work life.
    • A person with a healthy work-life balance is an attractive candidate to most companies. Many companies may even ask you about your interests outside of your field.[1]
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    Examine your relationship with your current job. In order to best answer questions about your work ethic, you must first have a thorough understanding of how you, personally, relate to your job. [2] Consider the following:
    • Your attitude towards work relates to how you approach occupational responsibilities. Someone with a strong work ethic has a positive, willing attitude when it comes to putting effort into a job.
    • Your feelings about work relate to how work affects your performance, and is an important contributing factor to overall work ethic. Work may make you feel energized, proud, and positive about yourself and your accomplishments. On the other hand, you may feel that work makes you feel stressed.
    • Your beliefs about work pertain to the role you give work in relation to life itself. For example, you may believe that work builds character and is central to a well-balanced life.
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    Make an outline of how you feel about different aspects of your job. Writing these ideas down might help you remember important details about your work ethic and your skill sets for an interview.
    • How do you feel about working with others? Describe both pros and cons about working directly with co-workers and clients.
    • How do you feel about continuing education and expanding your skills? Describe your attitude and feelings towards putting extra time into professional training.
    • How do you feel about working overtime or through difficult scenarios? Outline your attitudes towards working extra hours or through unfamiliar and difficult situations.
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    Think of specific instances in your career. These will help you describe the specifics of how your work ethic has benefitted you in your career. These can be things like:
    • Working with a team: Has there been a specific time where working with a team has been difficult or beneficial? How did working with others help or hinder you?
    • Working with a difficult client: Has there been a difficult scenario involving a client? How did you handle working with a client through a difficult problem while being sensitive to the clients needs and company restrictions?

Part 2
Answering Questions About Your Work Ethic

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    Prepare to be asked questions about your work ethic. Other questions related to this might be about your attitude towards your current job, job performance, ability to work with others, skill sets, etc. [3]
    • Questions about your work ethic might not be phrased exactly as "describe your work ethic" or "What is your work ethic?"
    • Similar questions might include: "How would you describe yourself?", "How do you feel about working in a team?", "How do you feel about training and learning new skill sets?"
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    Provide an honest answer that implies a strong work ethic. Choose characteristics of your attitude, feelings and beliefs about work to give an answer that is true to you, and that presents your work philosophy in the best light.
    • For example, you may state that you approach work with dedication because you believe in doing your best, and when you do your best you feel accomplished and satisfied.
    • You might also say that you also do your best to make sure you enjoy your work, and that helps you to complete tasks with enthusiasm.
    • Stress that you see jobs as a continual learning experience and that you will always seek new training and workshops that will allow you to further your skills and contribute to your workplace in new, innovative ways. Employers will look for individuals who want to advance their own knowledge about their job and contribute new insights to their team.
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    Use real-life examples to support your answer. Consider situations you have been in that exemplify the work ethics you claim to have.
    • For example, if you say you place a high priority on honesty, cite a scenario in your life where you were especially honest in the face of difficult circumstances.
    • If you claim to work well with others, describe a group project that you successfully contributed to.
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    Describe a difficult scenario at your last job, and how you worked to solve it. Describe how you successfully troubleshooted and worked with others to come to a solution.[4]
    • Use concrete examples. You might say something along the lines of "A client was having a problem with their account and they were very upset and angry. I was able to maintain being very calm and understanding while I worked to resolve the issue. I had to work directly with my manager to come up with a solution that addressed the clients and company needs at the same time. In the end, the client was happy with the solution and how I worked effectively with my team."

Part 3
Asking Questions During Your Interview

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    Follow up with questions about the potential job. Employers are most interested in candidates which ask questions during an interview. There are very good questions to follow up a question about your personality, work ethic, or ability to work with others such as:[5]
    • "What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate for your company?" This is a good chance for your potential employer to lay all cards on the table and describe exactly what they are looking for. It can be a good way for you to follow up with more answers about yourself and your work ethic that you haven't covered yet.
    • "Do you offer professional training or continuing education?" This is a good way to show that you are interested in continuing to learn new ways of doing your job and that you are willing to grow with the company.
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    Ask questions about the team environment at the workplace. This shows you are interested in being part of a successful team and thinking of ways how your skills might contribute.[6]
    • "Can you tell me about the team I'll be working with?" This question shows that you know you'll be working in a team environment and might lead to ways in which you can describe how well you have worked with others in the past.
    • " Describe how your attitude and approach to work fits in with the company or team philosophy. You might say "I'm an effective team player. I first evaluate where in a team project my skills would be most effective and offer strategies in that area. I offer support and positive feedback to my coworkers."
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    Avoid asking questions about benefits and pay. It is not a good idea to ask questions about benefits, time off, changing your work schedule, gossip you might have heard, or too many personal questions about your interviewer.[7]
    • Stick to specific questions about your potential jobs, the company in general, and the team you'll be working with.
    • Questions about benefits and salary can be addressed later in the hiring process rather than in an initial interview.


  • In the case of work ethic questions during job interviews, interviewers are often looking to hire someone who possesses a positive attitude, knows how to be a team player, takes initiative, is adaptable enough to take on a multitude of tasks, is good with time management, and is dedicated to continually learning.
  • Always dress for success. Invest in a power outfit that is clean, well-fitted, and tailored. Don't wear messy or wrinkled clothes, fragrances, or loud colors.[8]

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Categories: Work World